Chinese GP, Practice One: Lewis Hamilton easily fastest despite spin
Mercedes driver quickest by 0.3 seconds despite spin, with Vettel sixth; Verstappen also finds trouble and gravel at windy Shanghai
By James Galloway in Shanghai
Last Updated: 13/12/18 11:36am
Lewis Hamilton set an impressive early pace in Practice One for the Chinese GP ahead of Mercedes' bid to win their first race of the season this weekend.
The world champion, who trails Ferrari rival Sebastian Vettel by 17 points after the season's opening two rounds but has won in China a record five times, was the only driver to lap the vast Shanghai International Circuit in under one minute 34 seconds on a chilly and windy Friday morning.
Despite a later spin at Turn 11, Hamilton finished 0.359s ahead of Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen on ultrasofts with the other Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas in third, but 0.458s adrift.
Only Mercedes set their quickest laps on the soft tyres.
Red Bull, aiming to make up for the frustration of what they believe was a lost shot at victory in Bahrain last Sunday, were next up with Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen.
But Verstappen's session included another mistake - a trip through the gravel at the final corner after he spun wide going over the kerb at the end of his out lap on ultrasoft tyres. And while the Dutchman did clock his best time of the session a lap later, the tyres would have been slightly damaged.
"He's made a few little mistakes," Red Bull chief Christian Horner told Sky Sports F1 after the session. "Melbourne we saw one, last weekend... this weekend we need a clean weekend, almost a boring couple of sessions, qualifying and race - just to see what the potential of this car really is."
Championship leader Vettel made a low-key start to the weekend and was only sixth, over 0.8s off Hamilton's eye-catching pace.
"I wonder if he's doing his homework for a very early stage for race-day, particularly as it could be raining later," speculated Sky F1's Anthony Davidson ahead of P2.
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Kevin Magnussen, one of F1 2018's early-star performers, was a strong seventh quickest, with team-mate Romain Grosjean ninth. The Renaults were next up, with Carlos Sainz placed eighth, but McLaren were two seconds off the ultimate pace despite using the quickest ultrasoft tyres.
Stoffel Vandoorne just about kept his McLaren out of the barriers when he slid off the road at Turn 10 and finished only 18th, six places behind team-mate Fernando Alonso.
Meanwhile, as in Bahrain qualifying last Saturday, a Williams propped up the order with the team's tough start of the season not showing an immediate signs of changing in Practice One.
Chinese GP Practice One Timesheet
|1. Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||1:33.999|
|2. Kimi Raikkonen||Ferrari||1:34.358|
|3. Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes||1:34.457|
|4. Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull||1:34.537|
|5. Max Verstappen||Red Bull||1:34.668|
|6. Sebastian Vettel||Ferrari||1:34.861|
|7. Kevin Magnussen||Haas||1:35.178|
|8. Carlos Sainz||Renault||1:35.616|
|9. Romain Grosjean||Haas||1:35.718|
|10. Nico Hulkenberg||Renault||1:35.800|
|11. Pierre Gasly||Toro Rosso||1:36.037|
|12. Fernando Alonso||McLaren||1:36.044|
|13. Sergio Perez||Force India||1:36.051|
|14. Esteban Ocon||Force India||1:36.351|
|15. Sergey Sirotkin||Williams||1:36.691|
|16. Brendon Hartley||Toro Rosso||1:36.715|
|17. Charles Leclerc||Sauber||1:36.723|
|18. Stoffel Vandoorne||McLaren||1:36.756|
|19. Marcus Ericsson||Sauber||1:36.909|
|20. Lance Stroll||Williams||1:37.277|